Friday, September 13, 2013

. . . .

"I'll tell you something funny, Hollis said, something I heard. They say that everything in the universe, the planets, all the galaxies, everything—the entire universe—came originally from something the size of a grain of rice that exploded and formed what we have now, the sun, stars, earth, seas, everything there is, including what I felt for you. That morning on Hudson Street, sitting there in the sunlight, feet up, fulfilled and knowing it, talking, in love with one another—I knew I had everything life would ever offer.

You felt that?

Of course. Anyone would. I remember it all, but I can't feel it now. It's passed.

That's sad.

I have something more than that now. I have a wife I love and a kid.

It's such a cliche, isn't it? A wife I love.

It's just the truth.

And you're looking forward to the years together, the ecstasy.

It's not ecstasy.

You're right.

You can't have ecstasy daily.

No, but you can have something as good, she said. You can have the anticipation of it.

Good. Go ahead and have it. You and Molly.

I'll think of you, Chris, in the house we'll have on the river in Bangkok.

Oh, don't bother.

I'll think of you lying in bed at night, bored to death with it all.

Quit it, for God's sake. Leave it alone. Let me like you a little bit.

I don't want you to like me. In a half whisper she said, I want you to curse me.

Keep it up.

It's so sweet, she said. The little family, the lovely books. All right, then. You missed your chance. Bye, bye. Go back and give her a bath, your little girl. While you still can, anyway.

She looked at him a last time from the doorway. He could hear the sound of her heels as she went through the front room. He could hear them go past the display cases and towards the door where they seemed to hesitate, then the door closing.

The room was swimming, he could not hold on to his thoughts. The past, like a sudden tide, had swept back over him, not as it had been but as he could not help remembering it. The best thing was to resume work. He knew what her skin felt like, it was silky. He should not have listened.

On the soft, silent keys he began to write: Jack Kerouac, typed letter signed ("Jack"), 1 page, to his girlfriend, the poet Lois Sorrells, single-spaced, signed in pencil, slight crease from folding. It was not a pretend life."

- James Salter, Bangkok

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